The CdS House is located in a suburb of San Salvador, El Salvador, called Altamira. Altamira is known for its calmatmosphere and for its lush vegetation, two attributes that the residents value greatly and preserve, as well as for itschallenging topography which varies from flat areas to very steep slopes.The property onto which the CdS house was built shares all these attributes. It combines the calm of a secludedresidential area with a conglomeration of unique trees set in a steep piece of land. These conditions gave way to theplacement, and functionality of the house.
Sandwiched in between the access road and a row of exotic Kauri Pine trees* the house sits on a leveled platform awhole floor height below the access level. In order to minimize the construction of expensive retention walls, themain living areas were placed at a distance from the road, requiring the use of a bridge in order to enter the house.The main entrance gives way to an open social area, where the dining and living spaces are flanked on both sidesby greenery. The living areas also give way to an open terrace, stretching the whole width of the interior space. Toone side of the social area is a semi-private study housing the library, a small lounging area, and a small bar. Thisspace is fully cladded in wood, except for the exposed concrete ceiling, in order to give it a warmer feel. At the otherend of the social area lies the kitchen and the access to and from the car port.
A double height space next to main entrance is used by the stairs connecting to the lower level of the house. Thisdouble height “curtain-wall”, made of aluminum and glass, allows direct morning sunlight into the more private familyareas. At the bottom of the stairs lies the main access to the exterior of the house, at ground level. The main familyspace is an open area with the living and lounging area at the far end, next to glass sliding doors that allow accessto the exterior yard. A small working area is located next to this living space, as well as the main service and laundryarea, conveniently place next to the bedrooms.
The house has three bedrooms, two smaller rooms for the children, and a more spacious master bedroom. Eachbedroom has its private bath as well as an overhanging view into the exterior, which has been left as natural aspossible, allowing the sensation of living in a forested area.
The CdS house was designed with the idea that natural materials should be used and left exposed as much aspossible. The house has no painted surfaces on the exteriors, with the exception of the window sills located in thewooden cube and the metal structure which was treated in order to prevent corrosion. The main theme throughoutthe house is that the aesthetic, as well as any level of decoration comes from the house itself. It is not a cosmetictreatment, but rather the actual face of the building. Careful analysis was given to the choice of materials in order tocounter balance the cold effects of the exposed concrete and steel. The upper floor slab, constructed in a veryordinary way using concrete blocks and prefabricated beams, has been left exposed as the ground floor’s ceiling,resulting a “rustic” touch that yields a bit of warmth. The use of wood throughout the house was not only seen as abetter substitute to sheetrock (for walls and ceilings, for example) but as softening element that made the houseeasier to use and embrace. The use of glass “curtain walls” and sliding doors not only serve for ventilation andsunlight, but give way to the exteriors in the most unobstructed ways, allowing the exteriors to become part of theinterior spaces. The natural aspects of the materials have a direct relationship with the exterior of the house, whichhas been left as natural as possible. In its setting, the house seems to have been built from the same materials,resulting in a house that is there as part of the landscape, designed and built in order to respect and enjoy itssurroundings.
*Kauri Pine - there exists on the constructed land a row of six Kauri Pines, four of which lie in the lot where the CdShouse is built. These trees are native to New Zealand, and were planted here by the original owner of the property.Their exact age is not known, but the owners of the house claim to have bought the property because of thesetrees. Their importance to the development of the project is second only to the inevitable existence of the accessroad.
WALLS Walls are made up of a combination of structural concrete and CMU blocks. Structural concrete walls have been left exposed, with a coat of clear moisture sealer. Exterior wood siding is Cedro Macho wood (mahogany) from Nicaragua*.
ROOFS / CEILINGS The main roof structure is a typical steel beam construction with a Zinc-Aluminum, insulated roof.
The garage roof, as well as the roof of the study block, is a solid concrete slab. Concrete slabs have been left exposed as interior ceiling and steel roof has a Cedro Macho wood suspended ceiling. FLOOR Flooring of the whole house, except the study block, is Microfloor® flooring - a cement based coating aplicable for floors and walls. The study block floor is made of Cedro Macho wood (mahogany) from Nicaragua*.
WINDOWS Windows were provided by local manufacturer Solaire®, they are aluminum frames and laminated clear glass.
DOORS Solid wood doors are made with Cedro Macho wood (mahogany). Painted doors were manufactured locally using 3/4” plywood over a solid wood frame, painted with automotive lacquer.
HINGES AND DOOR HANDLES All door hardware is MHA, in brushed steel.